Wednesday 16 February 2005 6.21pm
I last visited the area off season (November 2003) and stayed in Lo Pagan on the north side of the Mar Menor close to the San Pedro del Pinatar regional park - flamingos on the salt flats etc. (Stayed at the Barcelo Lodomar - but didn't take up the offer of saltwater/mud "thalassotherapy" spa treatment! ) There are some much quieter beaches at the resorts on this side.
IMO the La Manga strip in high season is like Benidorm - except that it is full of Spaniards rather than Brits. There continues to be massive multi-storey redevelopment on this narrow spit between the Mediterranean and the Mar Menor lagoon. The roads onto La Manga are horribly busy.
The Murcian Mediterranean coast west of Cartagena is much quieter and much less spoiled - depends what you are looking for - Aguilas is very small but I think Mazarrón has yacht charters.
Whenever you travel, the flights will be full of golf obsessives holidaying at the La Manga club (some distance to the south of Mar Menor) or one of the other new golf courses springing up between the fields of plasticultura (intensive growing of vegetables in polytunnels) that have replaced too many of the orange and lemon groves on the area immediately inland. You can get some good deals on full service BA flights on days when there aren't large parties of golfers travelling.
There is lousy public transport from Murcia airport, and taxis are pricey, so it is almost certainly worth arranging car hire even if you are going to be based close to the Mar Menor. You can then explore other parts of Murcia province - Murcia city (make sure your other half is a competent navigator to find parking!) , the old towns of Lorca, Caravaca de la Cruz (in spectacular mountain scenery), and the port of Cartagena (probably only a must see if you are interested in Roman remains, although you can get fantastic seafood meals at rock bottom prices) .
Murcia Turistica - official regional tourism website
Pleasure harbours and yacht clubs listing on Murcia Turistica site
Edited 4 times. Last edit at 16 February 2005 6.34pm by Lang Rabbie.